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Heart attack test 'a life saver'

A new heart attack test produced by a Northern Ireland laboratory could save lives and stop health service waste, medics have said.

Chief executive of Randox Laboratories Dr Peter Fitzgerald said: "I believe this is a study of global importance which can significantly improve public health and we are extremely proud to have produced this in Northern Ireland."

Some patients with chest pains are being sent home from hospital despite being at high risk of suffering a heart attack, according to a UK study.

It said the screening could also reduce the number of inappropriate hospital admissions.

Measuring a fatty acid associated with the heart could help identify those in danger, said clinical chemist Julian Barth.

The effective use of H-FABP (Heart-type Fatty Acid Binding Protein) provides an opportunity to save lives and make the most efficient use of valuable healthcare resources, something that is of growing importance as health budgets come under increasing pressure and scrutiny, he said.

Every six minutes someone in the UK dies from a heart attack. A team at Leeds General Infirmary led by cardiologist Professor Alistair Hall carried out research involving 1,000 patients for 18 months.

Blood test Troponin is presently used to diagnose heart attacks in combination with several other factors. However Professor Hall said concerns existed of an over-reliance on the method.

"Presently where Troponin is used on its own and generates a negative result, patients are frequently sent home," he added. "However our study found that a significant number of these people are at high risk of having a heart attack over the coming months. H-FABP can help to identify those high risk patients."

About half those tested for heart problems would be found negative with both Troponin and H-FABP tests, enabling safe early discharge.

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